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Spring Has Sprung!

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Wow, what a transformation we’ve seen in the weather! The majority of the country has been under multiple feet of snow until just a few weeks ago and now we’re (almost??) ready to don our bathing suits and flip-flops.

However, this time of year can also bring some lax attitudes when it comes to budgets and spending. For my family, this usually hits us in the grocery area. There are so many wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables available at great prices that it’s hard not to go crazy at the grocery store.

Throw in all the fun barbeques for Memorial Day, the 4th of July, family picnics, neighborhood gatherings or just recovering from cabin fever after the long winter, and our grocery budgets go right out the window. Unless we have a phenomenal garden that’s going like gangbusters, the grocery spending is likely to get a little higher if we’re not paying attention. It’s important not to deprive ourselves of healthy foods, but it’s equally important to remain focused on our goals over the summer.

Let’s look at some easy ways to stay on budget while still eating well and getting our full day’s supply of healthy vitamins from fruits and veggies.

As with any new endeavor, if you haven’t been tracking your spending, it might take some time to identify good prices on fresh food items. You’ll also want to consider whether buying organic produce is important to you or not. Organic produce will easily run 25%-30% higher per pound than conventional produce so you will need to compensate for that by either buying less or increasing the amount in your budget allocated for fresh produce. I plan to reduce my spending on meat and dairy as much as possible in order to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables I can buy.

The nice thing about the summer months is that we may not notice the reduction in other categories of our grocery budget if we plan our menus well. For example, I can reduce the amount of dairy products I buy because I want my kids to drink more water due to the heat. We are also blessed with abundant citrus this time of year so I can make lots of fresh lemonade and have fresh-squeezed orange juice to replace their milk consumption.

To reduce our meat budget, I will still buy chicken, but I plan to skewer it with other vegetables and cook it on the grill in order to use less. It’s great for little fingers and you only need two or three bite-sized pieces of chicken on each skewer because there are a lot of yummy vegetables on there.

Another option is to make sliders instead of full-sized hamburgers on the grill. This helps reduce waste especially if you have children who only take two or three bites then move on to the sweet corn or watermelon! This is also a great time of year to take advantage of the less expensive cuts of meat such as pork roasts. Roasts can be tender and flavorful if slow cooked on the barbeque or in a crockpot. Shred the meat before serving on buns and a little will go a long way. Pairing these main dishes with frugal picnic favorites such as homemade baked beans or potato salad are very inexpensive ways to stretch the meal budget.

Fruit skewers are an enticing and budget-friendly dessert or snack option and the kids love them! Simply rotate the less expensive fruits such as bananas, grapes, and various melon pieces with just one or two berries as a treat.

As summer approaches, fresh air and sunshine are easy on everyone’s budget. Finding inexpensive snacks and meal options to maximize the savings are on this Frugalista’s “To Do” list. Feel free to share your ideas for frugal summer fun with us, too! Send your ideas to Info@CompassCatholic.org!

“They all wait for you to give them their food in due season.” ~Psalm 104:27

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